Students Spread Messages of Encouragement

Students Spread Messages of Encouragement
Posted on 05/18/2018
Students Spread Messages of Encouragement

When walking around Berks County, if you look carefully, you just might find a rock colorfully painted with whimsical pictures or with inspirational words carefully hiding in plain view. It is likely that the painter was a student in the Wyomissing Area School District, and that written on the back of the rock will be either “Berks County Rocks” or “The Kindness Rocks Project.”

Both projects encourage individuals to paint rocks with inspiring messages and pictures and leave them around the community for others to find. When they find one, people in the community are supposed to take a picture of the rock and post the picture to either group’s Facebook page.

is spring, Mrs. Lindsay Rada’s ninth-grade reading class read e Outsiders, a novel by S.E. Hinton,
as well as “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” a poem by Robert Frost. Mrs. Rada and her class discussed

the reference to Frost’s poem in e Outsiders and how it set up a theme in the story. In the novel, just before Johnny dies, he tells Ponyboy to “Stay gold.” Focusing on the theme of what is meant by staying “gold,” the students learned that it means to stay innocent and true to oneself, keeping committed to values and life goals.

In order to carry this message into the community through art, the students painted rocks for “Berks County Rocks.” Working with art teacher Ms. Laura Zamperini, the students painted “Stay gold” on
their rocks accented by their own unique designs. Each painted one rock for him or herself and one to contribute to the community, then chose a location to place the rock where someone would bene t from the motivation/reminder to “Stay gold.”

Austin Pinder chose to place his rock outside of Reading Hospital. “Most people who go to a hospital are going through emotional things,” Austin explained. “I hope that my rock brightens someone’s day.”

Ciara Torres enjoyed reading e Outsiders and thought the book’s message was relevant to today’s generation. “I left my rock outside of the school because everyone in the school goes through a tough time at some point.”

At the West Reading Elementary Center, the Art Club brought Berks County Rocks to the residents

of Spruce Manor Rehab Center during one of the club’s monthly visits. Joined by their peers in Student Council, members of the Art Club helped residents sketch out

a design for their rocks before dipping their brushes into the bright paint colors. After the rocks dried, the students distributed them throughout the community.

“The residents love having the kids here,” says Helen, an activity assistant at Spruce Manor Rehab Center. “They are always asking when they are coming back.”

For the Art Club and the Student Council, visiting Spruce Manor Rehab Center raises the level of the school’s involvement in the community.

A similar community action project called e Kindness Rocks Project was a highlight of the school year for kindergarten students in Mrs. Meredith Caldwell’s class. Students painted rocks with inspiring messages and left them for someone to find.

Lila Kaufmann painted a ladybug on her rock, and she hid it by a tree close to her home. e rock was found; she checked.

“I hope that the person who found my rock knows that it was painted by a kind person and that it is a very special rock,” Lila says.

Her classmate Julia Wickstrom wrote “happy” on her rock, and she drew a happy picture on it, as well. She hopes that the person who finds her rock feels happy to have found it.

Whether in high school or kindergarten, each of the students participating in a painted rock activity discovered that creating the rocks and leaving them to inspire others gave them a warm and fuzzy feeling that could only be replicated by finding a rock.